Football Preview: UAB Blazers @ Florida Gators – Saturday, September 10, 2011 – 7:00pm

One down; 11, 12, or 13 to go. They may not be thetraditional type of preview you’re used to, but there is football coverageinvolved. You also get to learn a little something about Florida’s opponent. You really couldn’t ask for more, so don’t.Seriously, don’t. But if you insist on asking and you do want more, TBG is onTwitter and Facebook. I’ll be frequenting both throughout the day as collegefootball comes to life.
The Facts
Opponent: UABBlazers
When: Saturday,September 10, 2011 – 7:00pm
Broadcasting: FSN,Sirius 220, XM 199
Records: Florida:1-0, UAB: Nada
Point Spread forWagerin’ Folk: Florida -23
Over/Under for ThoseMentioned Above: 53
Betting Score ThatWould Calculate To: Florida 38-15
Our Gators’ WinFactor (See Here): TBG: 99, OEW: 99
Where We’ll BeWatching: TBG headquarters; multiple TVs a blazin’.
10 Things About UABFrom The World’s Greatest Source – Wikipedia
Do you think at one time it was called “The Wikipedia?” These are the types of things I think about.Football below for those not interested in learning more about our finenation’s higher educational institutions. See how I made you feel a littleguilty about skipping ahead?
1. The Universityof Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) wasestablished in 1936 and today is part of the University of Alabama System. Youknow one of the others, but do you know the third? It’s the University ofAlabama at Huntsville, home of the Chargers. (Mini UAH note: TheChargers’ ice hockey team has quite the history and in 2012 will host the NCAAHockey Frozen Four Championship in…drum roll…Tampa, FL.)
2. UAB is smallerthan the Gators’ first opponent. The school counts somewhere around 17,000undergrad and graduate students.
3. Last week, youlearned the Owlsey the Burrowing Owl is FAU’s mascot. This week, the Blazerswill be supported in mascot form by Blaze the Dragon. Not that an alligatornamed Albert is the freshest thing you’ve ever heard, but originality is takinga serious beating.
4. U.S. News andWorld Report named UAB the no. 1 up-and-coming university in 1992.
5. UniversityBoulevard is the main axis of the rectangle of land UAB sits on. Does everyschool have a “University” street ofsome kind?
6. Plans for anon-campus stadium are underway. Applause.
7. The studentbody is made up of 60% women. Well hello ladies!
8. The Mock Trialteam has experienced a history of overwhelming success. In 2006, they won anational title defeating Harvard.Well hello Blazers!
9. Sand (notbeach) volleyball and bowling have been added to the athletic program for the2011-2012 academic year.
10. Notable alumni:Roddy White – you know who he is, Deidre Downs – Miss American 2005.
When The Gators HaveThe Ball
The Gators’ offense excited us all during the 41-3 victoryover FAU. Or did it? The run gamewas dynamic…to the outside. And the pass game was effective…on short plays.Immediately after watching the game, we were all pleased. Going back and trulyreviewing the game, we were less so. But in all seriousness, we should be happywith our first glimpse at Charlie Weis’genius in Gainesville and here’s why: he plays to what the defense gives him.Unlike former Florida offensive mastermind SteveSpurrier, Weis doesn’t need to bring out the entire playbook to destroyevery opponent in his way. Weis brings a package of plays to each game and ifthey work, he sticks with them. Why call every play and use every weapon inyour arsenal when you only need a few? It’s a wise move even if it can be afrustrating one to fans. Expect to see more against UAB, but not much more ifthings go well enough early.
Where we would all like to see some change is in theintermediate and deep ball. The longest pass of the night against the Owls wentfor 20 yards; the longest John Brantleypass for 19. Fans like yours truly who grew up during the Spurrier era dig thelong ball. We don’t need a 70-yard touchdown strike every game, but we like thebig play. With Tennessee only a weekaway, I’d imagine will see more of a deeper passing game against UAB, but ifthe Gators don’t need it, we may not see it much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Chris Rainey Show. What’s that, there’sanother dynamic running back on the roster?!? Really? Then why am I hearingvirtually nothing about him? No really, why are we hearing virtually nothingabout Jeff Demps? All Demps didagainst FAU was rush for 105 yards on only 12 carries (that’s 8.8 per), scoretwo touchdowns, and add 21 yards on three receptions. Yeah, let’s not show anyhighlights of him Worldwide Leader. Rainey was spectacular, but so was Demps.Don’t sleep on him this season. These two are quite the combo. That’s right, Isaid the TWO.
The next question is which wide receiver will be the firstto truly step up and have an “OH MY”game. Rainey led the team with six receptions against the Owls. The receiverswith the most catches were Andre Deboseand Deonte Thompson with only threea piece. Against FAU, Weis spread the ball around, but will he continue to doso? If so, and it works, count me onboard, but if the Gators get to a pointwhere they need a go-to receiver, we aren’t sure who it will be. Someone willbreak out during one of these early games. It’s anyone’s guess who.
As I mentioned last week, the offensive line is still thekey. Brantley needs confidence in knowing that he won’t get planted into theground the moment he releases the ball. That’s the offensive line’s job. Theywere okay against FAU, but not great. Protecting Brantley and opening up themiddle of the field for the run game are key. Defenses will only get tougher asthe schedule progresses. Today is a test for the line.
When The Blazers HaveThe Ball
137 total yards allowed with only 30 rushing; no touchdownsallowed; only allowing two third-down conversions on 13 attempts; only threepoints out of two red-zone attempts. I like it. Oh I like it. Will Muschamp, if this is your defense,we all applaud you.
I’ll start with LerenteeMcCray, who had a little bit of a coming out party. We didn’t know what wewould get out of McCray, but he played well, finished tackles, and was always aroundthe ball. The third linebacker spot is his now and we should all be comfortablewith that. If I were going in order, the defensive line would be first, but thelinebackers get the top spot because of what we saw, or didn’t see, lastseason. We know the talent and potential JonBostic and Jelani Jenkinspossess, and now we know they have a third member of their group they can relyon. Their numbers from the FAU game won’t jump out at you, but that mostly hasto do with the amount of players that saw the field. Expect the three to getmore time against UAB as coaches prepare for the SEC portion of the schedule.
We already know we won’t see Sharrif Floyd against UAB and it really is a disgrace. What isgreat about it though is motivation. If Floyd wasn’t a fan favorite already(and he should have been, he’s going to be phenomenal), he is now. Rumors of “Sharrif Floyd” and “Free Sharrif” chants throughout the game have come up, but whatwill truly be special is when he steps foot on the field in a week againstTennessee. For now, the Gators are in good shape because they don’t need Floydjust yet. Led by Jaye Howard (onesack against FAU), Dominique Easley(very glad he never left), and RonaldPowell (a sack as well against the Owls), Florida will be just fine untilFloyd returns. UAB is a more accomplished passing team than FAU, so the linewill need to get pressure early and often.
On to the secondary and the “not sure what we have just yet” unit. Love Marcus Roberson, have a serious man-crush on Matt Elam, and like JaylenWatkins more and more every day. Roberson and Elam have solidified theirhold on their positions, but everyone has expected that for quite some time. It’sthe other two positions that we’re unsure about. UAB will be more of a test,but a test the Gators need and we should all be happy to watch. A starting fourneed to be etched in stone before Tennessee.
And now to turnovers. Turnovers aren’t necessary against theFAUs and UABs of the world. Florida can win without them. Okay, so a program likeFlorida can theoretically beat anyone without them, but they sure are nice. Ifthe defense is going to be the strength, they need to force turnovers. We haven’tseen any yet, but expect them to start to come.
Special Teams
Caleb Sturgis wassolid in his first game of the season, connecting on all seven kicks heattempted. Expect him to continue to be the kicker the Gators thought they weregetting when they recruited him. The punting game has been non-existent thisseason and it’s a disgrace! No, no it’s not. Florida didn’t punt against FAUand you should be fine with that. While you’d like to see the punter get someexperience, not having to use him is a good thing. Kick returns? Eh. A 15-yardaverage with a long of 18 isn’t great. Punt returns? Eh. A 28-yarder by Solomon Patton highlighted things, butthat’s about it. Punt block? YES! Against UAB, the Gators need to get more outof their return game, but continue to pressure opposing kickers and punters.The block teams could be a strong point all season.
I don’t see the Gators’ offense letting up in terms ofpoints scored. We could very easily see 41 points again (yes, I know specialteams contributed a score). On the defensive side of the ball, I don’t see theunit breaking, but UAB is a better offensive team then FAU. It wouldn’tsurprise me if the Blazers put one in the end zone or even two. The game shouldbe out of reach early, but 41-10 or 45-14 are possible scores. With the Gatorscontinuing to use a large amount of the roster, UAB could sneak one in.All-in-all, nothing to worry about Gator fans.

About The Bull Gator

I like orange and blue things.
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4 Responses to Football Preview: UAB Blazers @ Florida Gators – Saturday, September 10, 2011 – 7:00pm

  1. V. Money says:

    Trivia: A third notable UAB alum is Walter Sharpe, a former 2nd round pick of the Detroit Pistons in 2008 and currently with the New Mexico Thunderbirds.

  2. The Bull Gator says:

    I wouldn't call playing with the New Mexico Thunderbirds notable.

  3. A.J. says:

    Roberson is a great addition! Good article.

  4. The Bull Gator says:

    Thanks A.J. Will be keeping an eye on Roberson all game.

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